A few months back we were absolutely hooked, as we imagine many of you were, on The Great Interior Design Challenge.

That brings us to this month’s 5 minutes with – stylist, interior designer, journalist and GIDC judge, Sophie Robinson…

Sophie Robinson / Image: Luca Sage
Sophie Robinson / Image: Luca Sage


Tell us about the first place you called “home” and how did you make it your own?

The first time I was allowed to make my own ‘home’ was when I was seven and my Mum let me choose the scheme for my bedroom. I’ll never forget it. The absolute thrill of flicking through paint charts and wallpaper books (that has stayed with me ever since). So this was the eighties, so I had Graph paper style wallpaper, but I wanted ALL THE COLOURS, so I paired it with a rainbow border and bright rainbow bed linen. I absolutely loved it!

What’s been your biggest interiors design challenge to date and what project are you most proud of?

The most challenging interior design projects I ever did were for a TV show called Cowboy Builders for Channel 5. The premise of the show was to make good the shattered homes left by builders who didn’t finish the job they were paid to do. Some homes were just devastated. The channel put up the budget for the building work but myself and the design team had the desperate task of designing jaw dropping interiors with no budget. So, along with Melinda Messenger, we had to ask for freebies but it was really touching and fulfilling as companies wanted to donate to compensate for the families misery. It’s among the projects I’m most proud of as I was touched by peoples generosity and by the amazing response of the homeowners who saw their homes transformed. It really makes you realise how important our homes are to our happiness well being.

A lot of people may recognise you from being a judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge – what do you look for in potential candidates and what’s the one thing which always catches your eye?

“I believe good design should innovate, excite and produce new solutions to old problems”

The challenge faced by the designers is enormous I’m sure a lot people watching don’t fully appreciate it. With a small amount of time to prepare, then to execute the design, not to mention the tight budget, the designers who do well are organized, resourceful and creative. Unless they have amazing project management skills and can think on their feet, then they don’t get past go! When you get to the final rounds you know that everyone has those essential attributes nailed; they can work the budget, answer the brief and get it all done on time. So it’s then you start to look for the magic. Dan and I have both been in the design business a long time and what gets us excited is when we see something new or reinterpreted in a new and interesting way. I believe good design should innovate, excite and produce new solutions to old problems.

The GIDC judges - Dan, Sophie and Tom / Image: Alun Calendar
The GIDC judges – Dan, Sophie and Tom / Image: Alun Calendar


What tips and tricks would you give to anyone who is planning to re-decorate?

I think one of the best things about redecorating is getting a fresh new start. I’d urge anyone to begin by having a huge sort out and declutter, before you begin to think about starting anything new. Chances are you will need to clear the room to redecoate so seize this opportunity. Many rooms are totally killed off by too much stuff, it compromises the layout and over all look of the room. So that unsightly collection of paperback books needs to go, halve the amount of stuff you store in the wardrobe (I’ve just discovered vac-seal bags to store out of season clothes), and pull out all those old toiltry bottles from the back of the bathroom cupboard. You know the drill, ‘Use it or lose it’! You can then properly assess what practical needs there are for the room and plan the layout and storage facilities properly.

Then it’s the fun bit and that’s choosing a new colour scheme. By now you should feel so much lighter after loosing all your gumph that you can create room for some fresh inspiration. I druel over Pintrest, my favourite design mags and blogs for inspiration. There’s nothing like picking out your favourite ideas from other peoples houses. I then make a mood board containing all my favourite things, either on a board or digitally on my iPad. A mood board is an essential tool in creating a successful colour scheme. Somewhere where you can arrange all your ideas and swatches in the same place so you know they all sit together and work well before you make any purchases. If you’d like more inspiration on planning, styling and colour scheming then I’d strongly recommend doing a short interior design course. Myself and Daniel are holding day long Masterclasses during the forth coming months. You can find out more on our website www.sophieanddaniel.com.

Living room styled by Sophie / Image: Dominic Blackmore - housetohome.com
Living room designed by Sophie / Image: Dominic Blackmore – housetohome.com


Finally, what advice do you wish you’d been given when you had started in interior design?

Nothing springs to mind but if I could talk to the young twenty year old stylist assistant I’d have urged her to ask more questions! I think I was too shy and thought everyone in design and publishing was too cool. In actual fact its one of the nicest industries to work in and there are lots of people who will help and inspire. My career has skipped across publishing, media, TV as well as interior design and I’ve got every single job through word of mouth. So my advice is be nice, work hard, do what you said you would, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Solid advice right there and we wish we could of seen this 80’s bedroom – it sounds amazing!

We’d urge anyone to take a look at Sophie and Dan’s masterclasses, there are two more upcoming dates so make sure you check it out.

To see more of Sophie’s work head here or why not follow her on Twitter?

Thank you Sophie for taking part – we hope there’s another GIDC in the pipeline!

David & Mark x

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